SAG-AFTRA Members Approve a Streaming Royalty Deal With the Major Labels

With the rise of streaming music, SAG-AFTRA members have just voted to make sure they get paid.

Following months of negotiations, SAG-AFTRA reached an agreement with the major labels in October.  Now, in national vote completed earlier today, members of the performers union have approved the agreement.

The new SAG-AFTRA Sound Recordings Code covers sound recordings on digital, CDs, and vinyl.  It also includes all music formats, including audiobooks, cast albums, and any other sound recordings utilizing vocal performances.  The deal applies to artists who work at scale and overscale, and appear as royalty and non-royalty artists.

Highlights of the new contract include annual minimum wage increases and increased contributions to health and retirement plans.  Minimum wage will increase 3% on January 1st, 2019.  It will increase 2.5% on December 31st, 2020.  Health and retirement contributions will rise 13% starting July 1st, 2019.

SAG-AFTRA also fought for significantly increased contributions on payments from online streaming music services.

The portion of global streaming payments subject to health and retirement contributions will rise to 50%, up from 15%.

The performers union will also streamline the licensing and performer payment processes for foreign licenses.  This includes tracks licensed into commercials.  In addition, the foreign traditional use conversion fee for most licenses has risen from 3% to 4%.  This includes substantially increased minimum and maximum payments.

The new agreement, retroactive effective January 1st, 2018, expires on December 31st, 2020.  Major labels covered by the agreement include Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic Recording Corporation, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group Recordings, Capitol Records, and Hollywood Records (Disney).  Those units all fall under the ‘big three’.

Speaking on the vote, Gabrielle Carteris, President of SAG-AFTRA, said,

I want to thank the negotiating committee particularly its chair, National Vice President Recording Artists/Singers Dan Navarro, for their hard work and congratulate the membership for recognizing the value of this contract.  The negotiating committee’s vision, coupled with the support of our membership, is what has allowed us to secure meaningful gains, not only for today’s members, but for future SAG-AFTRA artists as well.

National Executive Director David White added,

This agreement further ensures increased minimums and higher contributions to the health and retirement plans, which will greatly benefit our recording artist members.”